Why being part of a real community is key for our mental health?
This year 2020 has been a critical one in most people's lives. And It also has posed a challenge for many people's mental health. Covid-19 has brought a huge amount of uncertainty for the future of jobs, travel, and global economic outlook. This increased volatility and uncertainty have caused a rise in anxiety and stress for most people in the world. And it's proven that gradual increments in anxiety and stress can cause depression and mental health issues.
Now, in this post, I want to explain why starting or joining a local community in your city is now more important and critical than ever. I have started many communities, but the most prevalent ones are GST (global tech community in 35+ different countries and 8000+ members), and language communities. Tbilisi Polyglots being the biggest (300+ members). So these are some of the things that I have learned by building communities and I want o make the point that communities are fundamental for our well-being. Not only regarding our mental health but also our economic, learning, and growth opportunities.
Here are 5 things to consider about communities:
1. Groups are the driving force of human evolution
Humans are the dominant creatures on earth, and the creatures that dominate the earth are cooperative — ants, termites, humans. We have a huge capacity for high levels of cooperation, with altruism being a strong motivating factor. Some of our evolutionary success occurred because groups formed, and they tended to be altruistic. So independently of kin selection or Genetic relationships — or I like to call it family networks —groups formed and cooperated, this is exactly what made us successful as a species. 
2. Group connections bring a sense of flow and calmness.
The Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, USA recommends joining a community group or becoming a volunteer in order to buffer the effects of stress. Another benefit to community wellbeing is shown in a study by the Australian Institute of Criminology in which a ten percent increase in community participation was related to a statistically significant 1.9% decline in violent crime rates. A decrease in criminal behavior can lead to a further increase in social participation as people feel safer in their community environment. The Australian Government promotes social participation and social capital in the Stronger Families and Community Strategy.
3. Learning is augmented with group work
Learning is an inherently social phenomenon and an intrinsic collaborative process. Peer discussion is inherently social and increase learning through negotiating with peers and synthesizing ideas, whilst feedback is essential to effective learning, and when done with peers, benefits both the individual giving and receiving feedback. Communities that share values, goals, interests, and expectations will benefit greatly by encouraging peer learning and making this collaborative process as open and inclusive as possible!
4. Groups provide the so-called “weak and strong ties”
Communities that are formed around a common topic of interest and where is possible to discuss, debate, and learn from each other, are crucial to the development of human relationships. All relations start as a weak tie and throughout time some develop into the so-called strong ties. Now, for new information and ideas, weak ties are more important to us than strong ones. Also is proven in several studies that finding a new job weak ties served as bridges: they provide more efficient access to new information.
5. Communities provide a rich diversity
Diverse communities can provide an opportunity for people from different racial, ethnic and cultural backgrounds to come into contact with each other. These experiences can create a positive effect on people’s identities. Being exposed to a set of diverse points of views and perspectives is a fundamental aspect or cultural and societal development. Constant exposure to different points of views, and perspectives has the potential to create higher levels of tolerance amount society. And overal harmony between different tribes and groups. It allows us to find our close comonalities between the US vs THEM.